With a high-profile body of Sydney work including The Grounds of Alexandria, Archie Rose Distilling Co. and Merivale venues Charlie Parker’s and Fred’s, the architecture and design firm Acme & Co has certainly raised the interior stakes for Sydney hospitality venues of late. And it’s a pretty impressive effort for a company that isn’t even five years old.
The firm was established in 2013 by architect Vince Alafaci and interior designer Caroline Choker, who bring different yet complementary skills to the table. “I earned my stripes at Bates Smart Architects where I worked for eight years before establishing my own practice, which I ran for 11 years, before joining forces with Caroline,” says Vince.
Caroline has enjoyed a less traditional career path, kicking things off with a Bachelor of Visual Communication in the late 1990’s, followed by a stint as a fashion designer before earning interior design qualifications from the Whitehouse Institute of Design in 2005 and a diploma of building shortly after. “Vince and I created Acme & Co in 2013 with a vision to unify the relationship between architecture and design,” says Caroline.
“We started dating in 2011, but it wasn’t until we collaborated on a project together two years later that the idea of Acme & Co was born. Sharing the same aesthetics and approach to design, we immediately saw the potential in merging our respective disciplines of architecture and interiors. We naturally collaborate with each other, and know how best to use each other’s strengths to push the possibilities of our projects. We work, live and play together, and somehow it all works perfectly,” says Vince.
The duo view their work as highly personal, and take cues from the history of a site too. “It’s very personal for us, our inspiration really does come from our own experiences – the places we’ve travelled to, art we’ve collected, music we listen to, people we meet and the food we eat. These experiences and memories are then translated into the spaces that we create,” says Caroline.
And likening it to choosing a favourite child, the pair struggle to pick a preferred project. “We find it impossible to label any particular project as a favourite. However, the four most celebrated projects to date, and some of which we are most proud, are The Grounds of Alexandria, The Grounds of the City, Archie Rose Distilling Co in Rosebery and Merivale’s Fred’s and Charlie Parker’s, on Paddington’s Oxford Street,” says Vince.
The firm has also received plenty of industry recognition, winning the ‘Emerging Design Practice’ by The Design Institute in 2014, when the company was only one year old. “Several of our projects have also won accolades in their own right, such as Interior Design Excellence, Best Bar and Restaurant Design and Best Cafe Design. We have also just been nominated for the INDE Prodigy Award which is a tremendous honour. It is always incredible to be recognised by the industry that we love,” says Vince.